Friday, October 22, 2010

Flag Friday XVI

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: Without comment, he gives it an "B-", 68/100.

Michael5000: It's refreshing to see a red, gold, and green African flag not getting accused of plagiarism.  This spares me having to retell yet again the story of how the African flags got their stripes.  Longtime readers won't be surprised that I'm not crazy about this one.  Too 2:1ish.

Grade: C+


Parsons: Says it's "original," and gives it a "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: Now here's a red, gold, and green flag that could just barely be accused of plagiarism, since it can't directly buy into the pan-African thing.  You realized that Guyana isn't in Africa, right?  O.K., O.K., just checking.

Unfortunately nicknamed "The Golden Arrowhead," the Guyanan flag was designed by a Massachusetts consultant.  He didn't include the white and black piping though, which was added later.  Good call.  The black and white make the flag.  It's handsome, crisp, and -- especially regionally -- admirably distinctive and uncluttered.

Grade (for the current flag): A-


Parsons: Praising that it is "simple" and has "good colours," he assigns a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: The civil flag of Haiti is certainly simple as can be, and I guess red and blue are "good colors."  Trouble is, from what I can tell from perusing the internets, nobody nor their dog uses the civil flag of Haiti.  Like many other countries in its part of the world, Haiti favors a much fussier state flag:

The business in the center, which includes no less than six Haitian flags, which presumably have among them 36 Haitian flags, which have 216 Haitian flags, which have....  duuuuude......   ...but wait, I digress.  The business in the center, which includes some cannons, a scroll, anchors, bayoneted rifles, Haitian flags (duuuude...), and a palm tree, seems to appear in a wide range of sizes relative to the flag as a whole.

There was apparently a minor flap at the 1936 Olympics when Liechtenstein and Haiti realized they were flying the same (civil) flag -- Liechtenstein, with much fewer people and a more recent design, stepped down and stuck a crown on their blue-and-red, which was mighty gracious of them in my book.  The more common state flag of Haiti certainly gets points for being distinctive -- it is immediately recognizable among the world's banners.

It loses some points for being busy, failing both the Betsy Ross test and the kid-with-crayons tests.

Grade (for the state flag): B-


Parsons: Accusing Honduras of both "plagiarism" and of having "too many stars," Parson allows this flag a "B-", 68/100.
Michael5000: Plagiarism?  What the what?  Because it's similar to the flags of neighboring countries El Salvador and Nicaragua?  Well, um, they used to be a single country?  And they made adjustments to the flag they were used to when they separated into the modern independent countries?  So that's not plagiarism?  I mean, geez, how are we going to make any progress in vexillological criticism if you don't check these things out, Dr. Parsons?

The Honduran flag is certainly not jaw-dropping in its special beauty, and it probably looks a bit washed out against the Central American sky.  But I say, three cheers for a Latin American country that uses its civil flag as its state flag, and doesn't feel the need for a persnickety coat of arms on either of them.  Hip hip!

Grade: B+


Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B-", 68/100.

Michael5000: The Hungarian tricolor rocks.  The colors are firmly associated with all things Hungarian -- check out any bottle of paprika -- and the dominant red and dark green sandwich the white center stripe in a perfect balance of color value.

After the second world war, a Stalinist device was added to the center of the flag.  As things lightened up later in the century, it became a popular gesture of defiance to rip those puppies off -- they were too fussy! oh, and symbolic of a totalitarian nightmare -- and you had lots of flags that looked like this:

There is a movement afoot in the Hungarian government to get some sort of state seal back on the flag.  Bad call!  You've got it good, Hungary.  Stick with the tricolor, the whole tricolor, and nothing but the tricolor.

Grade: A

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flag Friday XV

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: Calling it "original" and "eyewatering" -- in fact, "impressively eyewatering, given only two colors" -- he gives it a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: The Greek flag is a remarkable flag achievement, combining the simplest of elements to create a banner that is instantly recognizable, unique, and iconic.  It's a flag classic.

Grade: A


Parsons: Again with the "eyewatering," in fact "possibly the most eyewatering flag in existence." He gives it a "C+", 60/100.

Michael5000: Ol' Kalaallit Nunaat isn't a full-fledged "country" -- it is largely autonomous, but still looks to Denmark for diplomatic representation, defense, economic policy, and, well, money.  I'm covering it here only because it was on Dr. Parsons' list, and because it has an awesome flag.

Greenland 's flag is not entirely unlike Greece's: a strong color interacting with white, very simple elements, and an effect that is visually distinct, elegant, and memorable.  Here are the specs is you are moved to sew one up for yourself:

Incidentally, does anyone here see anything "eyewatering" about either the Greek or the Greenlandic flag?  I think Parsons needs to lay off the eyedrops.

Grade (for the current flag): A


Parsons:He feels that it has "too many stars" and is "too busy," and assigns it a "D", 40/100. "What is that thing on the left?" he asks.

Michael5000: Living in those dark days before everybody knew about the Wiki, Parsons had no way of knowing that "the symbol in the hoist represents a clove of nutmeg, one of the principal crops of Grenada. It also represents a link to Grenada's former name, which was the 'Isle of Spice.'" And, who knows, maybe nutmeg cloves are immediately recognizeable and cause patriotic stirrings in all good Grenadans.  It does seem like a rather obscure visual reference though.

Too many stars?  Too busy?  I'd have to agree.  The bright colors might inspire our hypothetical child with crayons, but they'd be well advised to use a coloring-book template.

Photographic evidence suggests that flagmakers play pretty fast and loose with the dimensions of the central star.  And also that the flag, for all that it is rather busy, has a certain sunny exhuberance to it as well.  Which is nothing to sneeze at.

Grade: B-


Parsons: "There are so many things wrong with this flag," notes Dr. Parsons, and lists them: it is "too busy," has "bad colours," includes "weapons," "writing," and "graven images." It is slapped with a "D", 40/100.

Michael5000: As usual, Parsons dislikes a Latin American flag because of it displays a coat of arms.  I'm sympathetic, although as usual I'll note that he could just choose to fly the civil ensign on important Guatemalan holidays.  It has no weapons, writing, graven images, or busy-ness of any kind:

But actually, although I don't in general approve of this level of detail and frim-frammery in a flag, I can make an exception for Guatemala.  Know why?

Because that bird perched on the gun between the laurel branches is a freaking Resplendent Quetzal, that's why!  A Resplendent Quetzal makes up for a variety of sins, that's what I always say.

Grade: B


Parsons: Without comment, he gives it a "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: As Ghana adopted the colors of the Ethiopian flag out of a spirit of pan-Africanism, Guinea adopted the colors of the Ghanaian flag when it became independent the next year.  The obvious downside is that the flags that followed this pattern are not visually distinct.  Mali, neighboring Guinea to the north and east, has a vertical tricolor of green, yellow, and red.  If the two nations became embroiled in a 18th-Century infantry conflict, rallying around the flag would be tricky business indeed.

Grade (for the current flag): B

Hot Hungarian

Occupying a prominent location in the Cartophiliac kitchen is the Szeged Hungarian Hot Paprika. Good stuff, not only because it features a map on the tin!

But wait, there's more! The map of Hungary, in three regions, looks like a sideways flag of Hungary!

Can any Hungarian carto-vexillo-fans out there tell me if the tri-colored regions on the tin represent three distinct regions in the country?

Vexillophiles note: Michael5000 gives the flag of Hungary an "A" in his latest Flag Friday post.

(I'm also hoping the title "Hot Hungarian" will help me get more hits from web surfers....)

[Cross-posted to Cartophilia]